Brent Meersman – Mail and Guardian

Young playwright Nicholas Spagnoletti has made a notable debut with London Road, his first fully produced play (and a nice coup too to have Lara Bye direct).

As someone who lived for a while in the actual London Road in Sea Point, and watched it almost disintegrate in the 1990s and then regenerate, I can vouch for the veracity of the work. The text is a pleasant mix of inventive comedy and tragedy, familiar and resonant for many local theatre patrons.

In a series of short vignettes (the entire duration is just under 60 minutes), it charts the friendship to fruition of two unlikely soul mates brought together by their determination to triumph over circumstance: Stella (Ntombi Makhutshi), a young illegal immigrant and drug peddler, and Rosa (Robyn Scott), a lonely, elderly Jewish widow whose family has emigrated.

Although Makhutshi gives a fine, nuanced and well-judged performance, Scott tends to dominate, mostly because the script is unbalanced; Rosa is far more realised as a role. Scott is as always reliably comic (Rosa would fit in perfectly as one of NBC TV’s The Golden Girls), yet touchingly vulnerable as the frailties of age overtake her character. The characters themselves are fresh, the scenario novel yet quite plausible, and Spagnoletti has both a good ear for dialogue and a camp sense of humour.

Overall, it is one of the better straight play texts (in the sense that it is a dramatic dialogue for actors) seen in a while in Cape Town. This is indeed promising new work. — Brent Meersman